Two Yorkshire inventions to be commemorated in special stamp collection

Two significant inventions with Yorkshire connections will be honoured in a special run of stamps produced by Royal Mail. Credit: Royal Mail

Two significant inventions with Yorkshire connections will be honoured in a special run of stamps produced by Royal Mail.

The "Inventive Britain" collection includes Sheffield Steel, the product which made the city synonymous with metal production, and catseyes which were invented by a man from Huddersfield.

The stamps depict eight key inventions created by British inventors over the last century:

  • Colossus computer,

  • World Wide Web,

  • Catseyes,

  • Fibre Optics,

  • Stainless Sheffield Steel,

  • Carbon Fibre,

  • DNA Sequencing

  • The i-limb

Sheffield has become synonymous with steel Credit: Press Association

In 1913, Sheffield-born Harry Brearley originally set out to produce a steel to use in gun manufacturing that was resistant to erosion and instead created one that was resistant to corrosion, which he originally named ‘rustless steel’. While others before him had researched iron–chromium alloys, it was Brearley who capitalised on his discovery, recognising its value to industry.

Stainless steel was invented in 1913 by Sheffield-born Harry Brearley. It is still used today in everything from car exhausts to heart valves to the cladding of Canary Wharf Tower.

The stainless steel stamp celebrates on of Sheffield’s best known and most important inventions.

Stainless Steel fact-file:

  • It is made predominantly from iron, which gives it strength, but the addition of the metal chromium makes steel become ‘stainless’,

  • Can withstand extreme cold or intense heat,

  • It is fully recyclable, durable and can be cut, welded, machined, rolled, moulded and fabricated for a multitude of uses.

Catseye roadstuds comprise four glass beads, each with a reflective coating applied, embedded within a rubber housing encased in a cast-iron base. Credit: Press Association

Percy Shaw had his own road-surfacing business at the time he developed and patented the ‘Catseye’ reflecting roadstud in 1934. Despite its brilliance, it took a decade for its merits to be fully realised; Second World War blackouts would lead to the widespread implementation of Catseyes in Britain.

Shaw’s entrepreneurial drive translated his idea into a commercial product that was manufactured in great numbers and became invaluable to the wider world. Since that time, Catseyes have never fundamentally changed in their functionality, demonstrating the excellence of the original design.